The Survivor Series was the first attempt at a pay per view other than WrestleMania when it made its debut in 1987. Since it was one of the founding pay per view series, it is known as one of the Big Four in the WWE pay per views with WrestleMania, the Royal Rumble, and SummerSlam. The first four years, the Survivor Series would take place on Thanksgiving Night before moving over to Sundays in November.
The success of WrestleMania III paved the way for the Survivor Series to be born. Following Survivor Series, the first ever Royal Rumble pay per view was broadcast the following January, then the first SummerSlam the August after. Fast forward almost 30 years later, and now we have a pay per view from the WWE every month.
There was a specific theme to a match or matches within the Survivor Series as two teams of four or five on each side would compete against each other. Once a wrestler is pinned, they are eliminated in the match and that team is a wrestler short. Once one side has lost all of their wrestlers, they have lost the match.
While the Survivor Series is known for this traditional match, most of the iconic moments that have occurred in the history of this pay per view were not from those matches. From returns to screwjobs, there have been a lot of defining moments from the Survivor Series. Will your favorite moments make this list?
Here are 10 Iconic Moments In The WWE’s Survivor Series We’ll Never Forget.
10. The First Ever Survivor Series
As mentioned in the open, the continued success of WrestleMania for three years running paved the way for the Survivor Series that occurred on Thanksgiving Night in 1987, more specifically the feud between Andre The Giant and Hulk Hogan.
The entire event consisted of the elimination matches that the Survivor Series is known for. There was even a massive 20-man elimination match between five tag teams on each side that lasted a total of 37 minutes.
The main event was Hulk Hogan’s team of himself, Paul Orndorff, Don Muraco, Ken Patera, and Bam Bam Bigelow against Andre The Giant’s team of himself, One Man Gang, King Kong Bundy, Butch Reed, and Rick Rude. Andre’s team would get the best of Hogan’s team on this night.
9. The Rock’s First Match In Over Seven Years
The Rock is one of the most iconic wrestlers ever in the history of the WWE, but after WrestleMania XX in 2004, he would leave the company to pursue a career in Hollywood. It would take seven and a half years for The Rock’s next match.
The Rock was the host of WrestleMania 27 in 2011, and it was agreed upon the day after that The Rock and John Cena would face each other at WrestleMania 28 the following year.
Before that match up would happen, Cena and Zack Ryder were supposed to take on The Miz and R-Truth, but Ryder was ambushed. Then GM John Laurinitis would grant Cena to choose his partner, and he decided on his upcoming WrestleMania opponent in The Rock.
8. The Debut Of The Elimination Chamber
Back when there was a brand split, the Raw GM (Eric Bischoff) and the SmackDown GM (Stephanie McMahon) would try to compete to prove they were the best brand. To combat the Hell In A Cell Main event at the 2002 No Mercy pay per view for the SmackDown brand, Eric Bischoff came up with the Elimination Chamber match at the Survivor Series a month after.
The Elimination Chamber is a gigantic structure with a wrestler inside four pods and two others in the ring. After a pre-determined amount of time, one of the pods randomly opens. If a wrestler gets pinned or submits, they’re eliminated and the last one standing wins.
Shawn Michaels won the WWE Championship in the first ever Elimination Chamber match defeating Triple H, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Kane, and Chris Jericho. The Chamber match would eventually grow into its own pay per view.
7. The IWC Dream Team Forms
In the summer of 2013, the Wyatt Family debuted. They would attack anyone and everyone on the roster to show their dominance and deliver their message and ideals to everyone in the WWE. Eventually they would bite off more than they could chew when they would attack Daniel Bryan and CM Punk in the same night on Monday Night Raw.
Bryan and Punk would come to each other’s aid and decide to stand up against the punishment the Wyatt Family was delivering. This was the dream formation of former indy wrestlers that the Internet Wrestling Community was dreaming about as both guys rose to fame from their time in Ring Of Honor.
In the end, Punk and Bryan would come out on top defeating Erick Rowan and Luke Harper with Bray Wyatt at ringside. It would mark the first bump in the road for The Wyatt Family.
6. Undertaker’s First WWE Championship
This year’s Survivor Series will celebrate the 25-year career of The Undertaker, and this is his first of two entries on the list of iconic moments for the pay per view. It was just one year after his WWE debut and Taker would earn himself a shot at Hulk Hogan’s WWE Championship.
As you can see from the photo, Taker would deliver the infamous Tombstone on Hogan on a chair with the help of Ric Flair to win his first ever WWE Championship. His first reign would only last six days as Hogan would win the title back, again in controversial fashion. The next day, WWE President Jack Tunney would strip Hogan of the title and put it up for the winner of the Royal Rumble.
5. The Debut Of The Shield
In 2012, the year’s Survivor Series saw the WWE Champion CM Punk taking on John Cena and Ryback in a triple threat match to close the show. Out of nowhere three guys dressed in black came in through the crowd and delivered a brutal triple powerbomb on Ryback through a table. Those three guys were Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns collectively known as The Shield.
For a little over a year following this appearance, The Shield would dominate the WWE and are known as one of the best factions in WWE history. After Rollins turned on his brothers in June of last year, all three guys have had singles’ success. Thanks to the backing of the WWE Universe, don’t be surprised to see a reunion of The Shield a couple of years down the road.
4. The Corporate Rock
Late in the summer of 1998, there were two WWE Championship matches that would end in controversy. First, Stone Cold Steve Austin would be pinned by Undertaker and Kane simultaneously, and second the brothers would face off to a no contest the following month. This set up the Deadly Games tournament for the championship that would end at Survivor Series.
In the finals, there were two guys perceived as WWE faces in The Rock and Mankind, but most expected that Mankind was in The Corporation’s pocket. Just like the year before, Vince McMahon pulled a screwjob to have the bell ring while Mankind was in a submission, and they turned Rock into heel to be the Corporate Champion.
Seventeen years later, there is a tournament to crown the WWE World Heavyweight Champion due to the injury of Seth Rollins. Will history repeat itself?
3. The Introduction Of The Undertaker
One of the most unique and enigmatic characters in the WWE, The Undertaker debuted 25 years ago at the Survivor Series. In a traditional Survivor Series match in 1990, he was the mystery teammate for Ted DiBiase’s team and ended up being the sole survivor by completely dominating the match.
That was how Undertaker was booked early in his career, virtually invincible. In Taker’s first year in the company, he would feud with and defeat guys such as Jimmy Snuka, Ultimate Warrior, Randy Savage, Sid Justice, and Sgt. Slaughter before winning his first WWE Championship versus Hulk Hogan at Survivor Series in 1991.
A quarter of a century later, Undertaker is set to take on the Wyatt Family with his brother Kane, and this year’s Survivor Series will be a great tribute to one of the best of all time.
2. Sting Finally Arrives
When Vince bought WCW in 2001, a lot of wrestling fans held out hope that the biggest star from the NWA and WCW days in Sting would transition over to the WWE. Unfortunately for WWE fans it would take over 13 years for The Icon to make his debut after a lengthy run in TNA.
At last year’s Survivor Series, Sting would make a thunderous debut when he would help the lone survivor Dolph Ziggler win in a traditional Survivor Series match against the Authority to take Triple H and Stephanie out of power. This would then set up Sting’s first ever match in the WWE against Triple H at WrestleMania.
1. The Montreal Screwjob
Not just one of the most talked about instances in the history of the Survivor Series, the Montreal Screwjob is one of the most talked about moments in the entire history of the WWE. It is going to be a moment that is remembered forever due to the way real-life issues between Bret Hart and Vince McMahon played out live on pay per view.
Vince had caught wind that Bret was leaving the WWE and was going to sign a contract with rival WCW right on the cusp of the Monday Night Wars. There was no way Vince was going to let Bret leave as the WWE Champion, and that lead us to the Survivor Series in 1997.
Shawn Michaels put Bret into the Sharpshooter (Bret’s finishing move) and Vince called for the bell ending the match with Bret not even tapping out. Bret was so mad that he would spit on Vince who was standing at ringside. It would take many years of healing, but eventually the three men involved would make up, and Bret is involved in the WWE today on occasion.